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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

History of the Interstate Highway System

Illustration shows automobiles on an elevated roadway within a modern city.
Futuristic elevated highway as imagined in "Interregional Highways." From original caption: ". . . a [department store] show window [seen on the left] at the elevated level [is] dressed appropiately with the kind of large display that would be needed for comprehension by express traffic.

The Interstate System has been called the Greatest Public Works Project in History.  From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Interstate System has been a part of our culture as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life. Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point.  President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree. 

In this section, you will find articles explaining the origins of the Interstate System and how it came together, as well as other aspects of its development.  Check the bibliography for additional readings on all aspects of the story.  Links will connect you to other sources of information.